6-STEPS TO PIVOT AND GET RESULTS BY TAKING MARKETING IN-HOUSE TO INCREASE TRAFFIC, MOVE INS, AND REVENUE WHILE CREATING SELF-SUFFICIENCY
If you have not read part one in this blog series, click here, and read it first, then pick up with this blog, the second and final in this assisted living marketing two-part series.
As discussed in part one of this blog, one of the biggest challenges we see here at Bild & Co for assisted living operators to effectively market their communities is budget constraints. Most do not have a financial allocation that is enough to hire a viable full-service marketing firm.
The result is half-assed, cookie-cutter work that has been repurposed from past projects and proves ineffective despite impressive reports that show a high number of impressions, clicks, and site visits- but that ultimately lead to nothing. It’s all smoke and mirrors and many operators have become hijacked by their marketing firm, unable to leave even if they want to (we had to pay a firm $20,000 just to exit a contract). In most of these cases, the problem stems from budget constraints. The operator needs a marketing firm, and the firm needs the new business so the two parties engage at a rate the operator can afford but not one the firm can produce results with: setting both up for failure.
If you can relate but also are thinking, “but I can’t increase our marketing budget,” keep reading. The reality is budgets have never been nimbler. We are in a revenue crisis with 20% of assisted living apartments sitting vacant. I am going to provide a road map you can model that will move you toward assisted living marketing independence and improved results. It’s up to you to execute!
Marketing an assisted living community can be incredibly expensive with little to no results to show for time, money, and effort invested.
6 STEPS TO MARKETING YOUR ASSISTED LIVING COMMUNITY SUCCESSFULLY
1. Update Your Website and Do It Right, Not on the Cheap!
An assisted living community website is now the face of the company and typically the first thing prospective buyers see when considering you as a future living option. It is critical to review your website and check for the following elements (there are many, but these are just a few):
- Strong calls to action (CTAs): This might be the ability to book an in person or virtual visit online by giving access to a calendar to auto scheduler, a checklist of some sort to download, or a great piece of content relevant to their search.
- To gain access to any of these CTAs, the user must enter their contact information, to include email and mobile, thus moving your website toward a lead gen or lead capture site versus online brochure. You may have heard this called “gated” content.
- Keywords: More on this in a moment, but your site must be keyword rich to include having those keywords in the metatags so google can find you.
- Visually Rich: Less is more and being that people have an attention span of two seconds, ensure your copy content is limited and supported by strong visuals, ideally photography of real residents living life within the community (compared to empty rooms as are typically shown). Be sure to include photographs or video of actual model apartments, not a schematic.
- There is so much more but ask yourself, “What questions are people asking when coming to our site and are we making that information easily accessible?”
2. Create a Content Marketing Strategy That is Keyword Rich
Google loves content and its purpose is to answer questions for its billions of users who type in things such as, “assisted living in Palm Harbor, Florida” or “how do I know when my dad needs to move to an assisted living community?” or “how much does assisted living cost?” If you are not pushing out consistent content that educates your target demographic, seniors over 75 and their adult children, you are missing the single greatest opportunity to generate quality leads that will move. A few things to consider: Google likes at least 1,200 words and keywords are critical to improving your brand’s search presence. This means two things:
- Hire a Content Writer: If you are not a content writer, hire one and make sure that individual is a good storyteller. You can find great freelance writers at https://www.upwork.com/.
- Embed Keywords Into Content: Understanding your resident as a whole and using the right keywords for your content strategy for your assisted living business is crucial. What is it your prospective buyer is looking for: assisted living near me, what does assisted living cost, highly rated assisted living facilities in Palm Harbor (or your city), etc.? TIP: Any keyword that has over 50 searches per month is worth considering as a viable keyword for you, don’t pursue anything less.
- Build Your Following: It’s not how big the list is that matters, but rather how engaged. The better your content, the stronger your following will become. Most CRM systems have the ability to distribute content and there are many options like Mail Chimp that are affordable as well. Be sure to embed your content links into everything from email signatures and correspondence to billing statements and business cards. That list will become invaluable.
3. Learn About Backlinks and Pursue Them Like Crazy
Google likes to refer people to reputable sources. When a 55-year-old woman goes online at 6:00 pm and searches “assisted living that is affordable for my dad in Urbana, Ohio” it will rack and stack its answers based on an , rewarding those companies who it deems most credible with one of the top three to four listings presented in a search.
Like content, Google loves backlinks; in simple terms it means the company is credible. The more backlinks you have from credible websites to your own website, the more important your page is and thus the more exposure you get.
If you have an assisted living community and are writing good content, you can request other sites link to your site. Since most communities target a 15-mile radius, consider who has the most influence on your ideal resident or their caregiver and begin to target them. It might be your local hospital, geriatric physicians, caregiver support groups, and more. You will need to do some research on this and put in some effort, but it will go a long way toward moving you up in search engines.
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4. Invest in a CRM that Interfaces with Your Websites
Nothing is more important in the assisted living sales process than timing. A life event will occur such as a fall and a family will begin their search, “assisted living Billings, Montana, affordable.” This person may be searching for the first time or for the fifth time! As we know, it’s typically a series of incidents that ultimately leads to a move. Yet a CRM with good artificial intelligence can tell you WHEN that person is looking if they have engaged with you in the past.
Meaning, if Michelle visited your website in November and then went cold yet is back on your site in February, you will know immediately and be sent an email. Rather than working an extensive database of leads with no specific strategy, a good CRM will help sales and marketing directors to prioritize by showing them what that individual lead is viewing or reading on your website, when they visited and even how they found you!
5. Develop a Strong Circle of Influence with Professionals Who Can Consistently Refer
Referred leads close four times faster than non-referred leads. You can continue to spend critically needed funds on campaigns that are not leading to move ins, or you can invest in a human being who can personally engage with and connect with professional referral sources in your market service area that are in desperate need of reliable partners who can solve their patient’s problems.
This means creating a dedicated program around professional referral development that teaches your sales and marketing directors how to identify ideal sources, how to get in front of them, what to say, how to build value regarding a reciprocal relationship, and how to maximize that relationship for the long-term.
This is not an easy undertaking, but it can yield results in less than 30 days. It is our single most effective strategy when taking on new development lease up projects. Training is vital or this initiative will fall flat and return no results. Done right and it’s a gold mine that is a win-win for everyone involved.
6. Free and Low Cost Resources You Can Leverage That Marketing Firms Will Not Tell You About
- Google Analytics: Provides an understanding of your traffic, time on site, how people interact with your site, and more. Dig in!
- Google Search Console: Identifies relationships with HOW people got to your site to include keywords, broken links, and site health, which is vital to Google including 404 Errors that you don’t know exist until a site visitor is kind enough to tell you!
- SEM Rush: Type in a keyword and see how many searches a month are being searched, how the keywords are ranking, what keywords your site ranks for now, and the competition of keywords. For example, the more specific you get, assisted living Urbana, Ohio, family owned, small, highly rated; the less competition there will be. This is one of my favorites.
Be careful when using these tools, you can go so far down the rabbit hole of information that you never return, trust me, I’ve been there. Yet the information you gain will empower you to learn more and to self-educate to the point that you can properly hire the individual or firm needed to achieve your lead generation goals and understand what’s happening firsthand.
I’m far past that recommended 1,200 words and at 1,850, feel like I’m just getting started. If you are hungry to learn, in layman’s terms, how to gain control and better understand assisted living digital marketing, join me in our upcoming 4-WEEK ASSISTED LIVING MARKETING ACADEMY. This session is limited to just 15 people as all will be live on screen and engaging with me as we go on this journey together.